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July 1, 2014

German-style Christmas market could be win-win

We understand some downtown Belleville merchants' trepidation about the German-style Christmas market planned to close the city's 200th birthday celebration.

These merchants maintain stores to sell their wares downtown Belleville 52 weeks a year, and they don't want transient vendors diverting sales during the most profitable season of the year.

They want to protect their piece of the pie.

But what if a Christmas market makes the pie bigger? One of Belleville's themes is "shop Belleville first." Maybe this special event attracts new shoppers to Belleville who otherwise would have spent their money in Fairview Heights or O'Fallon or St. Louis. That could benefit the vendors and business owners alike.

Carlinville sees those kinds of win-win results from its Christmas annual market. That three-day event draws more than 10,000 tourists to town, people who probably wouldn't come to shop there otherwise, and generates $1 million in revenue.

The City Council should enthusiastically support this idea and approve it at its meeting on Monday.

If the market doesn't work out, this becomes a one-time 200th birthday event. But we hope it brings many new customers to downtown merchants and turns into an anticipated annual festivity.

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